Halibut fishery underway, off to quiet start


Pilot Photo

The packer Westerly tied up to the Icicle Seafoods Cold Storage on Wednesday as halibut deliveries begin arriving at local plants. Trident will be offloading their next loads of halibut on Thursday morning. The fishery got underway on Saturday with little excitement or fanfare. Unlike last year, ex-vessel prices started at $6/lb. for larger fish where this year the whitefish is bringing in $5.50 lb. Neither fishers nor processors are guessing where pricing will end up as the season progresses. Realities of the marketplace have hit processors and fishers alike as halibut prices have held too high for too long and have gradually eroded the customer base which may well drive halibut prices lower.

It was unusually quiet along the waterfront as the halibut fishery got underway on Saturday.

Most of the first fish landed goes to Homer, Kodiak and Petersburg and processors there said there wasn’t “the usual chatter” and none said they had a feel for what’s going to happen yet with prices. Lots of halibut remains in the freezers and some major processors had reportedly unloaded the high priced fish at a loss.

In short, no one appeared very excited – catch limits have been slashed again this year, the fleet is unhappy about having onboard observers for the first time, and proc...

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